Music Care Certificate Program turns 2!

by Sarah Pearson

Two years ago this March, a group of about eighteen people from across Ontario gathered in a conference room in the upper reaches of Mount Sinai Hospital in downtown Toronto. I was nervous – okay, mildly terrified – about what was about to happen. It was the culmination of six months of work and I hadn’t slept much in anticipation of this day.

It was the first Pilot Level 1 Music Care Certificate Program. Months of brainstorming, curriculum-planning, logistical structuring, writing, editing, formatting, communications, and now lesson-planning, were coming together for this first course.

It took about five minutes to feel the magic begin.

Then things began to click, and the course began to fly. And I sensed this was the beginning of something that would grow in a wonderful way.

And grow it has! The Music Care Certificate Program is turning two this March, and there is much to celebrate. We have now taught this course over a dozen times across Canada, along with Levels 2 and 3. We have ten trained instructors who bring their own unique expertise to their varying networks and communities. The course has been offered to exclusive in-house groups that have brought the training to their workplace. As graduates of the certificate program enter the triple digits, more care providers across the country are integrating music into their practice in a responsible, responsive way.

MCCP seems to be one of its kind. Using music in health care is not something new, and its benefits are lauded in mainstream media and research-based studies alike. While music therapy is an established evidence-based profession, music is also used both consciously and accidentally by people across the spectrum of care. There are no known “best practices” for using music in health care and other care settings, and this needs to change. Given both the tremendous good and the potential harm that music can do, standardizing an approach to using music in care seems to be in everyone’s best interest.

Creating a music care certificate program has been a process of sketching out these best practices, so that we can assure care providers are using music safely and effectively. Because of this, we have consulted with experts in the field at every step of building this curriculum. This course has been built out of relationships, and continues to build relationships.

Room 217 is in the business of relationships, and as a client-centered therapist I’m in the business of relationships too. As MCCP turns two, it’s the relationships that this program has nurtured that I’m celebrating the most. Many of the connections made between course participants have turned into collaborations, collegial relationships and ongoing friendships in the community. Room 217 has built new relationships with brilliant course instructors across the country, who are feeding us with their knowledge and sharing with us their communities of caregivers. And our course participants, all caregivers of some sort, have deepened their caregiving relationships with the power of music.

We are in the early stages of confirming our course roll-out for the 2016-17 season, and it’s exciting. We are reaching communities across the country and beyond, making new connections and nurturing existing ones. We piloted MCCP because of a need that we saw to be met. As the program grows and flourishes, I feel hopeful that we are on the right track, meeting this need.


Sarah Pearson is a music therapist working in oncology and palliative care in Kitchener, ON . She is the Program Development Coordinator for the Room 217 Foundation and Lead Facilitator of the Music Care Certificate Program.